Optical Laptop drives and compatibility

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coius's picture
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Joined: Aug 25 2004
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Working on dozens of laptops (probably about 40+, and am NOT afraid to dive into them), I have pretty much found that all optical drives for them contain the same ATAPI connector on the back of the drive itself (not the bridgeboard in the caddy). I assume now, that pretty much all of the optical drives (not counting the SATA ones that are coming out) that all of these drives are pretty standard, right? (except the early apple iMac ones and early powerbooks, right?)

Am I safe to assume, that if I buy and optical drive on ebay, i will pretty much be able to use it in ANY modern laptop?

I am looking at This Combo drive (and have bid on it) And am hoping it will work in a caddy on my newly acquired laptop. I seem to find they are in the standard location (the drive itself) I just want a confirmation, so I don't end up having to track down an exact drive)

I tried a Dell Combo Drive (took it out of the caddy) and put it into the caddy of the CD-ROM on my laptop, and it worked (but the laser in the drive is SEVERELY scratched, so I only got it to read a disc just once) And know this principal is pretty much that.

Can I get a confirmation that my theory is correct?

I am not a laptop proffesional when it comes to part standards (maybe someone who has worked at a company that produces laptops) so i just want to know if this is safe to assume this.

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DrBunsen's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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Any idea how to take apart an

Any idea how to take apart an NEC Versa P600? It's my girlfriend's, and I need to do an optical swapout.

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coius's picture
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Joined: Aug 25 2004
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First place to start is with the bottom

slowly work through the screws. It's best to keep small bowls (and label the steps on the bowls) as you do the take-apart, put the screws and etc. into the bowls. I normally will go in layers. Start with the case (each side gets their own bowl) and take note of how they go in (this is where memory comes into play). Is this a pentium 3 600Mhz?.

Anyways, sometimes the keyboard will pop-up by putting a small flat-head screwdriver by the edges (most common is at the bottom of the keyboard, with little "tabs" that hold the keyboard down.) You can slowly pry up on the keyboard. if it doesn't move, then don't force it.

I use a plastic Spatula (not the rubber ones, ones more for paint scraping (NOT METAL!!!)) as this has less of a chance of putting marks at the seams.

The best advice I can give you, is to just take it slow. If you have a good digital camera with a computer at your disposal, you can take pictures and use something like "preview" in OS X to put the pictures in sequence (like label them "Step 1, Step 2, etc..." and it will be easier to put it back together without missing screws and the likes

Generally, when I work on a laptop, It takes me about 45 minutes to get it apart. This is because a majority of the laptops that come to me, are old (7yrs+) that the owners don't want to part with. I have to go by memory and think of how some of the laptops are the same when it comes to it. sometimes, right off the bat, I know what areas are easiest to get at.
I would say, get the obvious areas first, and slowly work your way in. Keyboards for the most part will come out during the beginning stages. Once you have that off, it's pretty much easy from there, since you will see the whole inside of the machine.

So the trick is to get the keyboard out of the machine. Then the inside will become obvious at how to get at stuff.

Just take your time (it's not uncommon for me to take 1hr to get a laptop apart) do it carefully, and if you don't have good memory, take LOTS of pictures. Pictures don't lie Wink

When you work on a lot of them, it becomes more a "knack"

However, I believe iantm was right about having apple laptops are the worst offenders. The iBook G3 clamshell wasn't bad, but once they started getting compact, they turned into being a real ***** to get apart. I had to put my iBook back together about 3x before I got everything working. I still took my time, but they can be hell on your nerves. even the newer laptops I work with aren't that bad. I pity the people that work in the work areas where they do nothing but apples. Imagine everytime apple comes out with a new model and they have to learn all the new locations (I am pretty sure not EVERYONE has access to the take-apart sheets at all time) and I have had on more than one occasion when I got my old G3 iBook back, that it would be missing parts. and I *KNOW* that it wasn't the same person. On top of that, they gotta keep the knowledge of the old machines in their head when the odd one out of warranty comes up on the block to be fixed.

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dankephoto's picture
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re: safe to assume this

Yes, it's safe to assume all modern slim optical drives conform to a standard form factor.

dan k

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iamdigitalman's picture
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yep. According to Danke's pag

yep. According to Danke's page, this started with the lombard and pismo. So that means I can get a superdrive and swap out the DVD drive, keeping the caddy/drive holder with the bridge board.

-digital Wink